Parole Letter – January 2011

 

This letter is written in an effort to continue to keep inmates updated on the current issues regarding parole and parole related matters, as well as to address some of the repetitive questions asked in the letters I receive from the inmate population.

2010 Parole Approval Rates by Offense Type:

These are the statistics I received from TDCJ regarding the release rates in 2010. I hope this will be of some benefit in understanding what is occurring regarding the releases to parole by the Parole Board and will help stop some of the rumors circulating in prison. Comparing the same months in 2009 to the same months in 2010 the release rate has fallen approximately 2% to 5% in some categories.

Agg.-No Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                 Sept-10                Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

27.54%                25.57%                23.31%                22.98%                19.15%                (2483 reviewed – 542 granted = 21.83%)

Agg.-Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                 Sept-10                Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

41.40%                41.40%                28.08%                39.89%                49.03%                (1076 reviewed – 421 granted = 39.13%)

Violent-No Agg. No Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                 Sept-10                Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

23.59%                22.27%                21.85%                20.73%                20.51%                (3370reviewed – 709 granted = 21.04%)

Not Agg. Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                 Sept-10                Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

28.73%                30.74%                23.77%                22.93%                18.89%                (608 reviewed – 134 granted = 22.04%)

Nonviolent-No Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                  Sept-10               Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

34.41%                33.83%                29.04%                27.58%                27.53%                (11148 reviewed – 3438 granted = 30.84%)

 

 

2009 Discretionary Mandatory Approval Rates by Offense Type:

 

These are the statistics I received from TDCJ regarding the release rates in 2009. I hope this will be of some benefit in understanding what is occurring regarding the releases to parole by the Parole Board and will help stop some of the rumors circulating in prison. Comparing the same months in 2009 to the same months in 2010 the release rate has fallen approximately 5% to 10% in some categories.

 

Agg.-No Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                 Sept-10                Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

0.00%                  00.00%                0.00%                  0.00%                  00.00%                (One file was reviewed in Oct. none in the other months)

Agg. Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                 Sept-10                Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

00.00%                00.00%                25.00%                0.00%                  00.00%                (8 reviewed – 1 granted = 12.50%)

Violent-No Agg. No Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                 Sept-10                Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

40.96%                32.46%                38.92%                29.51%                30.81%                (1004 reviewed – 331granted = 32.97%)

Not Agg. Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                 Sept-10                Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

30.51%                40.00%                38.46%                42.50%                15.38%                (118 reviewed – 38 granted = 32.20%)

Nonviolent-No Sex Offense

Jul-10                   Aug-10                 Sept-10                Oct-10                  Nov-10                 Total To Date

53.25%                52.51%                47.38%                47.89%                49.45%                (3762 reviewed – 1815 released = 48.25%)

 

 

Texas Legislature:

 

The Texas Legislature will go in to session in January 2011. The Legislature will have the difficult task of trying to balance a budget with projected shortfalls of between 10 billion and 20 billion dollars. There will be numerous bills proposed and some may even be passed and signed into law but this will not occur until July 2011 or September 2011 at the earliest, assuming the Legislature has time to address other problems other than the budget shortfall. I will be addressing the laws affecting the inmate population in my letter at a later date when I have had a chance to see if the laws have been passed and signed by the Governor. There is no reason to listen to any rumor about new laws until after the Legislature has closed and the Governor has signed the law. It is not a law if proposed by a legislature. A proposed law must be passed by both houses and signed by the Governor before it is enforceable. Please do not write me and ask about proposed laws. Later on this year I will address those bills that become effective, if any.

 

 

Rumors:

 

(1)There is a persistent rumor circulating: a parolee who has had a revocation warrant (blue warrant) issued for a non-violent offender will be allowed to post a bond and remain out of custody until the revocation hearing. This is a proposed law before the Legislature, but as of the date of this newsletter it has not been passed or signed in to law. A similar bill was passed by the Legislature in 2007, but was vetoed by Governor Perry. There is no such law presently!

(2) Another rumor circulating is that some of the over 100 Texas prisons will be being closed down. This is not true. While the Texas prison system chief, Brad Livingston has been informed he must find an additional $75 million reduction in his budget he has stated “at this time” he is not considering closing some of Texas prison. He has stated “It is possible that significant budget cuts will be made” and he added, “It would be virtually impossible to avoid significant staff reductions under significant reduction scenarios.” Again no prisons have been designated to be closed at this time.

 

 

Court Cases:

 

United States v. Comstock, 560 USSC 2010, the Supreme Court ruled Congress has the authority under the Constitution to allow continued confinement of some sex-offenders after they have completed their criminal sentences. This was a 7-2 decision. The law allows the Federal Government to continue to detain prisoners who engaged in sexually violent conduct, suffered from mental illness and would have difficulty controlling themselves. The Government must prove to a judge by “clear and convincing “ evidence and then the court can hold the prisoner in custody until the prisoner is no longer dangerous or until a state government assumes responsibility for him/her.

A case to watch before the United States Supreme Court is Schwarenegger v. Plata #09-1233. This case concerns the overcrowded conditions in California prisons. This case has been in Federal Court for over 4-years and a Federal judge has found the conditions in California prisons to be unconstitutional and has ordered the release of prisoners to reduce the overcrowded conditions. The questioning by the Justices indicates a very close decision in this case. Depending on the decision, this may affect Texas prisons. I do not expect a decision until June 2011.

 

 

Coleman Review:

 

If the Parole Board imposes sex-offender conditions on an offender who does not have a current or previous conviction for a sex offense, he/she can challenge the Parole Board for imposing sex-offender conditions as though the offender was convicted of a sex offense as a condition of release to parole. If the offender should waive his/her Coleman Review, the Parole Board will not hold a hearing and the offender could be required to register as a sex-offender and attend sex-offender treatment as a condition of parole. A Coleman Review will only occur if the offender has not been convicted of a sex-offense. The offender may hire an attorney to represent him/her for such a hearing. At this time there is no indication there will be attorneys appointed to represent the inmate. The offender will be served a notice of the review, notice of the right to full disclosure of the evidence, notice of the opportunity to be heard in person, and to present witnesses and documentary evidence. The offender has the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, unless the panel specifically finds good cause why the witness shall not be called to present evidence. The matter will be heard by an impartial decision maker.

Parole Board:

Mr. Aycock of the Amarillo Parole Board will be retiring and a new member will be appointed by Governor Perry. As of the date of this letter there has not been a person named for this position.

MY ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION & WHY I MUST BE HIRED A LONG TIME BEFORE THE ELIGIBILITY DATE:

 

Every inmate is eventually going to be reviewed by the Board. If you want to hire me, I must have time to perform my job. I must be hired a long time before the inmate’s eligibility date so I can do what needs to be done such as help prepare an inmate to be a good candidate for release to parole, gather the needed information and prepare the written documentation to be submitted to the Board, and to argue in behalf of my client before the Board if granted an appearance.

The following is only an example of the time frame that it would take for a file to go through the system:

EXAMPLE:

Eligibility Date                    File In Review Status                        Probable Voting Period

January 1, 2011                 July 1, 2010                                      November 1, 2010 – January 1, 2011

The above example shows that the inmate’s file had an eligibility date of January 1, 2011. Six months before that eligibility date, July 1, 2010, it is placed in review status. Around November 1, 2010, it is then sent to the Board Members to be voted on and the vote should be completed by or before January 1, 2011.

It is too late for me to do my job if you wait to hire me once the file goes into review status.

Time Payment Plan:

If you decide to hire me and do so well in advance of your eligibility date, I can design a time payment plan for your family or loved ones, but I must be paid in full before I submit the parole package or request an appearance before the Parole Board, which is normally submitted 3 to 4 months prior to the parole review date. The time payment plan has been very helpful to many of my clients who have limited financial resources and thereby allowed them to hire me without causing them financial distress because they have hired me many months or even yearsin advance. If you wait until the last minute, the entire fee is going to be due immediately.

Please do not send any of your documentation to me prior to retaining me.

Sincerely,

James Randall Smith
Attorney at Law